Oprah in her younger days. Women's History Month 2018

Happy #WomensHistoryMonth 2018!

Oprah in her younger days. Women's History Month 2018
Media mogul and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey in her younger days.

 

It’s the first day of March and you know what that means… it’s Women’s History Month! This is the month on the calendar year where all women are celebrated and acknowledged for all that we do for ourselves and others. It aint easy being a woman in this world today. But, we all get the job done! This month it’s all about the ladies. Sorry fellas… but March belongs to us! We’ll see you all again in April. 🙂 So, on behalf of #BKGC, we’d like to salute all the strong women near and far. Trust us, your strength never goes unnoticed! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode ❤

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The Vintage Babies Are on a Mission to Save Soul Music!

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Vintage Babies cover art for their 2017 self-titled debut album.

“Nobody is making Soul music today. “Soul” meaning music from the soul. We consider this type of music “vintage music” because this is the music of the past and this music made you feel good. We’re creating this type of music right now. So, we’re the babies of the vintage music. We’re the Vintage Babies!” -DJ Dummy

If they’re not serenading the Sundance Film Festival crowd or performing for screaming fans at the popular Rockwood Music Hall in New York City, then you can catch the Vintage Babies somewhere making beautiful, compelling music that speaks directly to your spirit! Last month, Brooklyn Girl Code had the chance to sit down and speak with the Hip-Hop Soul duo consisting of Brooklyn’s own DJ Dummy and West Baltimore chanteuse Maimouna Youssef. Collectively, Maimouna and DJ Dummy have worked with several of the music industry’s elite including Common, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, De La Soul, Mos Def, DMX, Onyx, Das EFX, Raheem DeVaughn, The Roots, J. Cole, Trigga tha Gambler, Smooth tha Hustler, Group Home and many others. The duo recently spoke to Brooklyn Girl Code about Soul music, misogyny in Hip-Hop, what it was like being able to experience the Golden Era of Hip-Hop first hand during the early nineties and of course their self-titled debut album. The Vintage Babies are on a mission to save Soul music and we are here for it all!

Songstress Maimouna Youssef showing off her native beauty.

BKGC: My first question is for Miss Maimouna Youssef. Do you see your growth as an artist from your 2011 album Blooming to your current release Vintage Babies?

Maimouna: My approach as a writer for sure, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. A lot of the songs for the Blooming I had written years before it had even come out. So, this is a more mature version of myself for sure.

BKGC: How did growing up in West Baltimore contribute to your music style?

Maimouna: That’s definitely where I learned to rhyme and understand just regular coming-up in the ‘hood politics and just how to relate to other people. I grew up in a house and my parents are the ones who put me on to Hip-Hop. My dad always listened to Public Enemy and my brothers always listened to Wu-Tang. So growing up they were the soundtrack of my life until I started buying my own music. And I can’t forget those Baltimore club tracks, too (laughs)! So, just the experience within itself.

“Misogyny is a part of American culture. You see how many people are being brought to the pulpit right now in every area from politics to journalism? The music is a reflection of the community. So, it’s (misogyny) in the fibers of this country.” -Maimouna Youssef

BKGC: Listening to the album it’s obvious that you’re big on misogyny in Hip-Hop. What can be done to change this? It seems like it’s in the fabric of the music.

Maimouna: I wouldn’t even say it’s in the fabric of the music. I would say it’s in the fabric of the culture. Misogyny is apart of American culture. You see how many people are being brought to the pulpit right now in every area from politics to journalism? The music is a reflection of the community. So, it’s in the fibers of this country. I’m sure it was brought over from Europe because at that time women were seen as the same as cattle. The first steps are really acknowledging that it’s a problem because if we don’t acknowledge it as a problem then we perpetuate the problem. Women can perpetuate misogyny. If they promote these type of misogynistic ideas to their sons then their sons become those type of people who feel like it’s okay to disregard or degrade women. So that’s what can be done about it. We can stop acting like it doesn’t exist and that it’s not a real problem and retrain ourselves and then our children.

BKGC: So, based off of that who is your favorite female Hip-Hop artist?

Maimouna: Um, I gotta say Lauryn Hill. You know I came up on Lauryn Hill. It was like God, my mom and then Lauryn.

BKGC: (laughs) In that order!

Maimouna: Yeah, ’cause you know my mom is a singer, too. She’s really the one that taught me to sing. I can’t even say I look at it like female emcees. I like who I like in terms of emcees. So, I would just say my favorite emcees who have personally effected my life are Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, Nas, Jay-Z and KRS-One. KRS-One had a huge impact on my life as a child. So, yeah I would say those artists probably had the biggest influence on me as an artist.

BKGC: Do you and Common currently have something in the works?

Maimouna: We just did a show recently in Chicago. I worked with him on some writing for his last album and he’s also on the Vintage Babies album.

“I love being in the studio because I like to create what’s in my soul at that moment.” -DJ Dummy

Hip-Hop Soul duo Vintage Babies from left: Maimouna Youssef and DJ Dummy. Photo courtesy of @madidangerously.

BKGC: Okay so now I’d like to ask DJ Dummy some questions. Hi DJ Dummy.

DJ Dummy: How are you?

BKGC: I’m good. I didn’t know your career spanned so many years back. I can’t believe you worked with Group Home. That’s like the era of Hip-Hop that I’m from. Group Home opened up the flood gates for so many of the nineties Hip-Hop groups. What was it like working with Group Home? Were they the first artists you actually worked with back in the 90’s?

DJ Dummy: The first tour I ever went on was actually with Group Home. It was an experience because I was only 18 years old. I’m getting to travel the world with Group Home and yes that was like that era of Hip-Hop that I love so much with the Pete Rocks, the (DJ) Premiers, the Rzas. Those producers were killing the Hip-Hop game. Every record was made by them. So, to be around Group Home who were affiliated with Gang Starr at the time is how DJ Premier became one of my mentors. It was truly amazing to witness that at that young age.

BKGC: How did you get involved?

DJ Dummy: Group Home was on tour with Onyx and Das EFX and my brother was Onyx’s DJ, DJ LS One.

DJ LS One Mixtape Cover
DJ LS One mixtape cover from the late 1990’s.

BKGC: Oh! DJ LS One is your older brother and he’s the one who brought you into the game back in the early 90’s?

DJ Dummy: Yes.

DJ Dummy working the tables
DJ Dummy working the tables!

BKGC: Nice! So what do you enjoy doing the most? Battle deejaying, club deejaying, concert deejaying, directing music, or being in the studio?

DJ Dummy: It’s all different loves. I love being at the club because I love the fact that I can control anybody’s mood at any given time. If you’re having a bad day at work and you hear me deejaying at a party then you’re going to forget about that whole bad day you just had.

I love being in the studio because I like to create what’s in my soul at that moment. No matter what writer I’m with. Whether I’m doing a Hip-Hop song or an R&B song, all my tracks are stories already within itself without lyrics. I always make beats like that. Being in the studio is my outlet for my personal soul. As far as being on stage at a concert, I love hearing the live aspect of what I just created. I can’t say I love one more than the other. So, those are the reasons why I love my profession.

BKGC: So out of everyone that you’ve worked with, who was your most memorable?

DJ Dummy: Back in November at the Rockwood Music Hall performing with Maimouna.

“My top five artists? Number one is Pete Rock, by far number one. Then I would have to say DJ Jazzy Jeff, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z and Andre 3000.” – DJ Dummy

BKGC:  Yes. That was an amazing show. I’m glad I was able to attend. Just like I asked Maimouna, who would you consider your top five most influential artists? The ones who inspired you the most to get into music and stay involved?

DJ Dummy: My top five artists? Number one is Pete Rock, by far number one. Then I would have to say DJ Jazzy Jeff, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z and Andre 3000.

DJ Dummy striking a pose with rapper/actress Queen Latifah.

BKGC: How did the both of you originally connect because it seems like it’s a perfect mesh. How did you guys come together and decide you wanted to form a group?

Maimouna: We met on tour. I was on tour with The Roots, he was on tour with Common. We always ended up on the same tour at some point. Plus, DJ Dummy had a radio show that he let me co-host with him and just act a fool on!

DJ Dummy: That’s what really started our real vibe connection. My morning radio show. The way that we vibed off of each other you would’ve thought that we were already a group and then I’ve always known Maimouna to be one of the most incredible singers that I’ve ever heard. I knew that she could rhyme her ass of as well! So at first, I had her doing work with other people and then I said you know what… “Let’s make a mixtape together!” It was all Maimouna’s idea to make the mixtape. Just the vibe from the mixtape made me want to create more music with her.

BKGC: Divine intervention. That’s what it sounds like to me. Maimouna, how did you initially get involved in music?

Maimouna: I recorded one song with Raheem Devaughn‘s producer Omar and then one of my high school teachers connected me with a publicist who connected me with James Poyser of The Roots and I started working with him and that’s how I got to go on tour with The Roots.

BKGC: How’d you guys come up with the name “Vintage Babies?”

DJ Dummy: That was the brilliance of Maimouna. It’s definitely a sound. Basically, what’s missing today is the soul from all of music. Nobody is making Soul music today and not “Soul” music meaning R&B. That’s not soul. “Soul” meaning music from the soul, emotional music. We consider this type of music “vintage music” because that is the music of the past. That music made you feel good. Even a song like “What’s Going On,” by Marvin Gaye, the way he sung it, it made you feel good. That’s Soul music. So, me and Maimouna came up with that. We’re creating this type of sound. We’re the young ones coming up creating this music right now. So, we’re the babies of the vintage music. We’re the Vintage Babies!

BKGC: Perfect.

“Me myself, I’m working on a book. A guide for young women getting into the music business. Being a female band leader and what comes with that and just being a girl from Baltimore who’s touched every continent and what that looks like.” – Maimouna Youssef

DJ Dummy: 2018 is going to be more of a focus on the Vintage Babies. Both of us will be working with Common.

Maimouna: Me myself, I’m working on a book. It’s kind of a guide for young women getting into the music business. Like all the things I wish I would’ve known fifteen years ago. Lessons and advice that I’ve been given along my journey. Being a female band leader and what comes with that and just being a girl from Baltimore who’s touched every continent and what that looks like.

“I could’ve went with the biggest artist and I chose not to because I don’t like what they stand for. I’ve been working on tour since ’95. So, we’re talking 22 years now and this is all because of decisions that I’ve made. No, I’m not on the front cover of any magazines. But, my career has sustained and after 22 years I’m still here. Blessed.” – DJ Dummy

BKGC: This next question is for DJ Dummy. What advice do you have for young up-and-coming artists coming into the music industry? It’s not a glamorous industry. What advice do you have for the future Kendrick Lamars and J. Coles as far as staying involved and not giving up?

DJ Dummy: It sounds cliché, but I’m a prime example of staying true to yourself. I’ve been asked to go on tour with many artists. But, I don’t like their music so I didn’t go. I didn’t just take the check and go. Every artist that I’ve been on tour with or worked with, I was a fan of them. So, that goes to other rappers and other producers. Don’t try to make that hit record just because it’s popping right now. I could’ve went with the biggest artist that’s popping right now and I chose not to because I don’t like what they stand for. I’ve been working on tour since ’95. So we’re talking 22 years now and this is all because of decisions that I’ve made. No, I’m not on the front cover of any magazines. No, I’m not getting any producer of the year awards. But, my career has sustained and after 22 years I’m still here. Blessed.

BKGC: Any last words for the people?

Maimouna: Just buy the album. Don’t bootleg it. Don’t just stream it. Buy the album y’all!

DJ Dummy:  Make sure to follow us because this is just the beginning and it’s going to be something so much bigger. We’re trying to make music that we know people need. There is a need for a certain type of music right now.

BKGC: Yes, your music is very spiritual. There’s no question about the spirituality that is present in your music. Your music is important!

BKGC: Thank you guys so much for taking the time out to speak with me. I wish you all the best in 2018. 2018 is going to be a big year for the Vintage Babies!

***

Check out the Vintage Babies latest self-titled debut album here and follow them on Instagram @thevintagebabies for new music and upcoming show dates.

The Vintage Babies live at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on November 27th, 2017. Photo Courtesy of @madidangerously.
Temple University Division 1 Women's Fencers from left: Auset Muhammad (Junior), Safa Ibrahim (Senior) and Blessing Olaode (Junior)

The 38th Annual #TempleOpen Goes Down This Weekend at #TempleUniversity!

Temple University Division 1 Women's Fencers from left: Auset Muhammad (Junior), Safa Ibrahim (Senior) and Blessing Olaode (Junior)
Temple University Division I Women’s Fencers from left: Auset Muhammad (Junior), Safa Ibrahim (Senior) and Blessing Olaode (Junior)

 

#BrooklynGirlCode will be heading to Philly this weekend to watch the lovely young ladies pictured above and the rest of the Division I Temple University Women’s Fencing team win at the 38th Annual Temple Open! The event which is the largest collegiate individual meet in the country will be held this year at the Liacouras Center located on Temple University‘s main campus. It’s always a joy to see the next generation of young Temple fencers compete and win knowing that I once was in their spot, fighting hard to get every touch to beat my opponent as well as my record from the previous season. Fencing is not an easy sport to compete in, however, the joy from winning each bout tops everything!

Dr. Nikki Franke who is currently in her 46th year at Temple is looking to lead her ladies to 1st place in every women’s individual event this weekend and judging from the past years, this is very accomplishable. Coach Franke, who was once my coach while I attended Temple has a stern but lenient way of coaching her fencers to victory that proves to work year after year after year. Good luck to everyone competing this weekend at the 38th Annual Temple Open. #BrooklynGirlCode will be in the building! “][“Uuu baby!!! ❤

Temple University Junior Epee Fencer, Safa Ibrahim of Bronx, N.Y. showing her best fencing side
Temple University Junior Epee Fencer, Safa Ibrahim of Bronx, N.Y. showing her best fencing side.

 

Temple University Head Fencing Coach, Dr. Nikki Franke with #BrooklynGirlCode Creator and former Temple Fencer, Aziza Hassan at Temple University on October 29th, 2017.

It Was a Special Edition of #TBT at Brooklyn Bowl This Past Week and #BrooklynGirlCode was in the Building!

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It was a special throw back night this past Thursday in Brooklyn at popular live music venue Brooklyn Bowl and you know #BrooklynGirlCode was in the building! Mannie Fresh, one half of the legendary Louisiana Hip-Hop duo “Big Tymer$” was on the 1’s and 2’s for Brooklyn Bowl’s special edition of “Bowl Train” and he kept the crowd moving all night! Fresh had nothing but the classics blasting from the speakers covering every decade from the 70’s, 80’s 90’s and 2000’s.

It was a “Lovely Day” in Brooklyn to get your two-step on and see a Hip-Hop legend go to work. Check out some cool footage and flicks from “Bowl Train” and a fun throwback video by the Big Tymers below and enjoy your weekend! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode ❤

#JazzLegend #Thelonious #Monk Turns #100!

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Thelonious Monk performing at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem. Photo courtesy of Bluenote.com.

Today is the centennial birthday of American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. So, you know Brooklyn Girl Code had to write about it! Thelonious (Sphere) Monk (named after his maternal grandfather) was born in Rocky Point, North Carolina on October 10th, 1917. To many, Monk is considered to be one of the forefathers of modern jazz. And today on his 100th birthday, Thelonious Monk is still one of the most-recorded jazz composers in history falling second to Duke Ellington. This record is one that we may not see broken for a long time to come. Monk who stood out from the crowd for his unique sense of fashion, was a true genius on the piano and could woo his audience even if he played wearing only shorts. Monk started playing piano at the young age of six after moving from North Carolina to the Big Apple in 1922 with his family. As a youth, Monk played the church organ and later began taking his musical career more seriously serving as the house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem. A world-renowned venue that is known as the birthplace of Bebop music. Monk’s noted influences included Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and his mentor Mary Lou Williams. After an incident with the New York City Police involving Monk and his friend Bud Powell in 1951, Monk had his New York City Cabaret Card revoked and couldn’t play at many N.Y.C. venues for several years. This forced the jazz legend to take his musical talents over to Europe.

Later in his life, Thelonious Monk became more introverted and performed less for sold out crowds. But, thank goodness his music career spanned over thirty years (1940s- 1973) because otherwise, we would have never been blessed with Monk’s musical genius and prowess. Long after his death, Thelonious Monk is still influencing American music and culture and will continue to do so. Happy 100th Birthday to a real American jazz legend! Watch footage of Thelonious Monk playing with his band in Norway and Denmark in 1966 below via YouTube.

#SloaneStephens #Wins All at the #USOPEN, #WorldFencingDay Makes Its Debut and #TracyMcGrady Gets Inducted into the Basketball #HallofFame!

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So many great things happened in the world of sports this past week, that we had to spread some of the love over here at Brooklyn Girl Code! Florida native, Sloane Stephens won her first U.S. Open title on Saturday, September 9th beating out Madison Keys who was the No. 15-seed. With this win, Stephens becomes the lowest ranked player (No. 83-seed) to ever win a women’s singles title at the event. Tennis great Rafael Nadal kept the winning spree going winning his third U.S. Open title (2010, 2013, 2017) on Sunday, September 10th beating out No. 28-seed Kevin Anderson in the men’s single final at the world famous Arthur Ashe Stadium. The two champions celebrated their well deserved titles with friends and family all week long. Check out some cool photos of the champs below.

While Sloane Stephens was celebrating her first U.S. Open win this past Saturday, my wonderful sport of Fencing was celebrating its own day! “World Fencing Day” which was created by the FIE (International Fencing Federation) in conjuction with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) celebrates the solidarity of the sport of Fencing all over the world. Fencing is most definitely a sport that is played in hundreds of countries worldwide. So, this day was long overdue. However, as a Fencer myself, I was delighted to see the sport finally get its own day! Check out some really cool pics of all the international Fencers celebrating “World Fencing Day” below.

Lastly, but certainly not least, one of my all-time favorites, seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady got inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of FameMcGrady, who I always looked at as one of the more humble players in the NBA, gave an awesome enshrinement speech alongside his legendary players and peers at the ceremony held in Springfield, Massachusetts on Friday, September 8th. Watch the video below! Nothing but champions over here at Brooklyn Girl Code baby! Congrats to all the winners and honorees from this past week!

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Six-time Olympian Peter Westbrook warming up for practice at The Fencers Club in New York City, New York.

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Three-time Olympian Keeth Smart running a victory lap after a huge win!

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Photo of a young Michael Jackson listening to music via Rolling Stone magazine's Instagram.

#ForeverMJ🎼🎵🎶💙 #MJTurns59 #!!!!!

Photo of a young Michael Jackson listening to music via Rolling Stone magazine's Instagram.
Photo of a young Michael Jackson listening to music via Rolling Stone magazine’s official Instagram page.

The King of Pop turns 59 years old today. One of the hardest working entertainers ever, Michael Jackson often shadowed the great musicians and artists around him such as James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and several others. As a constant practictioner of his craft, Michael never stopped until every single angle was perfected. This habit would allow him to break music barriers like no other artist had done before him and later on in his life, Michael Jackson would go on to become one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. Never mind his 1982 (the year I was born:-)) Thriller album being the highest-selling album of all time or the millions and millions and millions of albums sold. Michael Jackson proved that no level of greatness could be achieved without constant work and dedication! Check out some cool videos from across the web commemorating Michael Jackson’s 59th born day below. Happy Birthday MJ! We Miss You!!! #ForeverMJ!!!

Michael Jackson 'Thriller' album cover
Michael Jackson’s 1982 studio album ‘Thriller’ produced entirely by Quincy Jones would go on to become the highest-selling studio album of all time.